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ACL Preview: Beijing Guoan vs FC Seoul


It’s first vs second in Group E as Beijing Guoan and FC Seoul clash for the second time in nine days. Lee Won-jun’s side must bounce back from defeat against Chiangrai United to strengthen their grip on the final qualification spot - but it will be far from easy against an in-form and star-studded Beijing side. Simon Farnsworth from @FCSeoul_fans previews the match.

Last Time Out

Melbourne Victory 0-2 Beijing Guoan
Beijing continued their fine form with a comfortable victory over Victory.  Social distancing protocols seemed in place on the field as nobody from the A-League outfit got close to Jonathan Viera, allowing the former Las Palmas star to stroke home the opening goal of the game with just nine minutes on the clock. 

Viera turned provider in the 35th minute when he found  Zhang Yuning inside the box. The Chinese international, who was adjudged to be just onside, was too strong for Dylan Ryan as he turned the Aussie defender and finished clinically. Renato Augusto came closest to adding a third, but his second-half strike cannoned off the bar. The win moves the CSL giants six points clear of second-place FC Seoul with two rounds remaining in the group. 


Chiangrai United 2-1 FC Seoul
Chiangrai United threw the race for second place in Group E wide open with their first-ever group stage win. Former Busan IPark striker Bill smashed home from point-blank range in the 40th minute, following a combination of great wing play by Ekanit Panya and sloppy defending from FC Seoul. FC Seoul’s 35-year-old captain Park Chu-young then proved that experience and wisdom don’t always go hand-in-hand. The striker was left looking rather foolish as his deliberately stuttered run-up resulted in a tame spot-kick that was easily saved. He did, however, make amends in the 59th minute when he headed Han Seung-gyu’s whipped corner into the back of the net. However, it was the reigning Thai champions who were celebrating at full-time. Chiangrai United broke quickly in the 88th minute, and FC Seoul’s backline went AWOL. Sivakorn Tiatrakul found Bill totally unmarked at the back post, and he guided the ball home.



Previous Meetings

Beijing claimed all three points when the capital clubs met nine days ago at the Education City Stadium. Fernando opened the scoring in the eighth minute before Alan doubled the “away” side’s lead on the hour with a fine strike from outside the box. 

FC Seoul didn’t look out of place against a talented Beijing side, and Park Chu-young pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after Kim Min-jae handled in the box. The Korean side pushed forward but - as so often has been the case this season - failed to break down their opponent’s backline. 


Team News

FC Seoul
Lee Won-jun has tinkered with his starting lineup since arriving in Qatar. Yang Han-been started in goal vs Beijing, but Lee named Yu Sang-hun between the sticks for the double-header against Chiangrai United. 

In defence, the caretaker boss seems to trust Hwang Hyun-soo and Yun Young-sun to marshal the backline, while young left-back Yang Yu-min has started the last two games. Osmar, Cho Young-wook, and Park Chu-young have started every match in Qatar, but Lee has chosen to rotate a number of other first-teamers, including Han Chan-hee and Han Seung-gyu. 

The ever-present Osmar in action against Chiangrai United

Beijing Guoan
Beijing have been in formidable form in Qatar, and Bruno Génésio may look to rotate his squad now that qualification has been secured. 

The influential duo of Renato Augusto and Kim Min-jae have played every minute of their ACL campaign while Jonathan Viera only recently returned from injury. Expect to see a big name or two rested against either FC Seoul or Chiangrai United. 


The Adversary

Beijing haven’t let the absence of Cédric Bakambu hold them back as they go in search of their first ACL title. The DR Congo striker hit 14 goals in just 19 CSL games this season, but he misses the ACL due to international duty. Zhang Yuning and Alan have impressed in his absence, with the latter bagging two goals in three appearances. 

However, it’s Renato Augusto that runs the show for Beijing. The 32-year-old Brazilian already has a goal and two assists to his name since arriving in Qatar. Few in Asia can match the playmaking ability of the former Bayer Leverkusen maestro. 

What To Watch

Which FC Seoul will turn up?
Will it be the side who battered Chiangrai United or the one which limped to defeat against the Thai side. FC Seoul have produced a series of Jekyll and Hyde performances in Qatar: The second-half display vs Beijing was full of encouraging signs, with the Korean side only lacking a killer ball in the final third. What followed was their most complete performance of the season - thrashing Chiangrai United 5-0 - only to fall to defeat days later to the same opposition. Can Lee Won-jun find his best eleven and most effective formation to ensure FC Seoul progress to the last 16?


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Prediction

Much depends on the side Beijing name. With progress to the knockout stages secured, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Bruno Génésio rotate his squad considering the hectic schedule. However, he may wait until the final matchday to make drastic changes. 

FC Seoul should have enough to overcome a Beijing second XI but will struggle to beat their star-studded first team. Having said that, FC Seoul can take encouragement from their second-half performance when they played the Chinese side earlier this month. 

Prediction: Beijing Guoan 2-1 FC Seoul 

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